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South Coast snowpack close to normal, unclear if drought is a threat

(iStock Photo)

The River Forecast Centre says it'll be April until we have a better long range outlook of possible drought conditions

Environment Canada forecasting another hot summer in BC

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – It won’t be until the spring when we know whether drought will be a factor in BC again this year. The province says there is good news — the snowpack around the South Coast is much closer to normal this winter than it has been over the last several.

The River Forecast Centre says we haven’t seen the dry winter that exacerbated last year’s drought, and the centre’s Dave Campbell says that’s good news for our water supply and lowering the spring flood risk.

“The south half of the province is sitting at fairly near normal levels, substantially more snow than last year and then the north half of the province is where we’re seeing lower snowpack’s and drier conditions.”

But he adds with the El Nino pattern we’re in, Environment Canada is forecasting another hot summer, and that could lead to an earlier snow melt, as well as drier conditions and an increased threat of forest fires.

Campbell says we’ll have a better long range outlook by early April.

Avalanche warning for parts of BC

The warning applies to the North Columbia, South Columbia, the Purcells and the Kootenay Boundary regions of BC. Glacier National Park is also issuing a public warning for backcountry users to be extra careful.

“Recent new snow and wind have deposited up to a metre of new snow across these regions that overlays a weak layer,” explains James Floyer, Avalanche Canada‘s Forecasting Program Supervisor.

“We’ve seen this layer fail a number of times over the past few days, resulting in some close calls. Our concern is that as the sun comes out this weekend, this weak layer will become more easily triggered. And with the amount of snow that’s on top of it we could be seeing some very large and dangerous avalanches.”

Avalanche Canada recommends backcountry users avoid large slopes in the alpine and at treeline levels, especially slopes that have not been previously heavily ridden.